Current Affairs / World

Hit me now!

Hit me now with my eightieth birthday and the writing of a book in my hands! Probably if truth were known the 80 had a bearing on my output, so that blogs, letter writing and emails necessarily suffered on the altar of the book’s requirements. Let us hope that in October this year when it is due to be published the effort will have been worthwhile. There are so many things one could comment on, blog wise, ranging from the Denis O’Brien affair, the John Delaney affair involving Mr Serge Blatter’s largesse, various garda matters and the homeless crisis.

But the homeless crisis which fired my imagination and sympathy was the one being played out in the Mediterranean. Of course our homeless crisis is a disgrace, one more mortal sin on the souls of our bankers – and I am probably paying them a useless compliment by inferring that they do have souls. Of course mortgage interest rates should be reduced.

The idea that banks which have cost this country so dear should not lower their interest rates is as infuriating as it is farcical.

The bankers help to drive people to suicide, they harass people not merely weekly but daily about their borrowings. They, or at least their former bosses, who are presumably cut from the same cloth as the present breed of bank executives hi themselves to the bank inquiry to say how sorry they are for their misdeeds. But the bankers keep on bringing sorrow to ordinary decent people’s lives.

There is an old adage that he who pays the pier calls the tune, we the people are paying the pipers – pied pipers they remind me of – and our government should call their tune and force the people to stop adding to the misery and the homelessness.

But when one looks to the Mediterranean a sense of proportion sets in. we are in economic difficulties, we have a homeless problem but while charity begins at home, it does not stop there and for a country with the term “coffin ships” hardwired into its DNA we are falling far short of what might be legitimately expected from us by way of aid for the desperate fleeing Africa in the contemporary coffin ships.

The crew of our one elderly warship in the area, the L.E. Eithne, are doing noble work but we haven’t taken anyone into our shores yet and the sort of numbers we are talking about are derisory for a country with our history. Our own homeless are a shame in our approach to this and despite our problems with the banks we are rich enough to fix this problem quite quickly if the political wing will existed. And as I say while charity begins at home it should not stop there.

As this is written men women and children in dangerous leaking boats, without sufficient food or water aboard are floating in the Mediterranean, are we whose seventy million strong diaspora was so largely contributed to by the Famine going to continue to tell these people that there is no room at the inn?

I’ll return to this question but meanwhile for a lighter moment I am posting below a video taken at the party which my children gave for me on Inis Mór, Aran Islands, County Galway on the occasion of my 80th birthday.